Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared that his country would not, in any way, support a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.
During a reception held by Israeli Ambassador to Italy Gideon Meir in Rome in honor of Israel's 63 Independence Day,
Berlusconi, who was the guest of honor, said that "unilateral recognition isn't the way to make agreements between countries" and that this was also the EU's stance.
The Italian prime minister said that Israel was "the only real democracy in the Middle East and Italy is concerned when Israel is in difficult situations. There can be no solution but peace in the region."
He said that on its part, Italy has made overtures towards peace by creating opportunities for Italian companies to invest in ventures in the Palestinian Authority in order to help support its economy.
Berlusconi added that Italy was always willing to help Israel to promote peace and hinted that "when there is a viable partner to represent all the Palestinians we can move forward in that direction."
According to Berlusconi, "Italy has always stood by Israel, even within the framework of the EU when it opposed decisions that were un-balanced and unjust towards Israel".
'Italy always willing to help Israel' (Photo: Courtesy of the Foreign Ministry)
The Italian premier also paid tribute to Ambassador Meir and said: "Dear ambassador, this is the last year you'll be celebrating your country's independence with us as an Israeli ambassador and I am truly sad to see you leave."
He further added: "You have greatly contributed to the excellent relations between our two nations, and I say this not just as a politician but as a friend of Israel's."